The West

Giuliani associates charged with campaign crimes gave money to California Republicans

This screenshot shows Igor Fruman, a Soviet-born South Florida businessman, with Donald Trump. The congressional impeachment inquiry is seeking testimony from Fruman.
This screenshot shows Igor Fruman, a Soviet-born South Florida businessman, with Donald Trump. The congressional impeachment inquiry is seeking testimony from Fruman.

Four California Republican congressman, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in 2018 accepted contributions from the two associates of Rudy Giuliani who were charged with with federal campaign finance violations this week.

McCarthy said Thursday he would be returning the campaign donations made to him and affiliated political action committees.

The men who gave the political contributions, Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are accused of conspiring to “circumvent the federal laws against foreign interference by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office,” according to a four-count indictment in the Southern District of New York.

Parnas and Fruman are now U.S. citizens and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns, including President Donald Trump and McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.

The other three California Republicans who received campaign contributions from the pair were former Reps. Jeff Denham, Steve Knight and David Valadao. All three of them lost re-election bids in the 2018 election when Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives.

Valadao of Hanford is seeking a return to Congress in 2020. He’s challenging Rep. TJ Cox, D-Fresno.

Valadao received $2,444 from Igor Fruman in the 2018 election, according to data assembled by Open Secrets and public records by the Federal Election Commission.

Andrew Renteria, a spokesman for Valadao’s campaign, on Friday said the campaign planned to donate Fruman’s contribution to local charities.

“These contributions were made without any direct solicitation by the campaign, rather they were received through a separate committee called Protect the House in 2018, before these events came to light, any foreign intervention in our elections is completely unacceptable,” Renteria said.

Parnas and Fruman reportedly were arrested at Dulles International Airport Thursday with one-way tickets to leave the country and had just met with Trump lawyer Giuiliani. Giuiliani has acknowledged meeting with Ukranians to try to dig up dirt on former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

An “Igor Furman” made a $100,000 donation to Protect the House, a Republican fundraising arm, in 2018. The indictment alleges that “Furman” is actually Igor Fruman, who intentionally misspelled his name to cover his tracks.

The donations to Valadao, Denham and Knight were also made by an Igor Furman, according to FEC records.

Donations from Parnas totaled $17,000: $2,700 directly to McCarthy, $3,300 to the National Republican Campaign Committee and $11,000 to Protect the House, a joint fundraising committee whose beneficiaries include McCarthy and the NRCC.

Parnas also gave $661 to the California Republican Party in 2016, according to the records compiled by Open Secrets.

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Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.